MariaOrtega, 15, and her son, Miguel, decorate sugar cookies on Feb. 12 at a meetingfor teenage parents participating in the Oklahoma Parents As Teachers Program.In Tahlequah, Okla. (Photo by Christina Good Voice)

Cherokee Nation and Tahlequah Schools offer new Head Start

02/25/2010 07:07 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation and Tahlequah Public Schools are partnering to offer an Early Head Start class for children of teen parents attending Tahlequah High School. The class is set to begin this spring at THS.

The class will care for nearly 50 children between the ages of 6 weeks to 3 years. THS will provide the on-campus facility, while the tribe will provide staff and other necessities.

The facility will be located in the same building as the Tahlequah Central Academy, an alternative education program where many teen parents attend classes.

“Tahlequah Public Schools is excited to be partnering with the Cherokee Nation Head Start to expand their program to serve our students who are teen parents,” said TPS Assistant Superintendent Billie Jordan. “We have recognized the need for this program for years and have searched for ways to provide this service so that teen parents can attend school and at the same time learn hands-on parenting skills while their babies receive quality child care.”

Laura Baltazar, 19, said she’s excited the class is nearly open because it would give her peace of mind knowing her children, 3-year-old Elder and 7-month-old Eyzel, would be cared for.

“It’ll be easier because they’ll just be right there,” she said.

Bethany McDonald, who is with the Oklahoma Parents As Teachers at Central Academy, said the class would also allow parents to ease their minds about paying for daycare.

Baltazar said she pays $400 a month for daycare, but with the class she can start saving that money.

“This will help save a lot of money,” she said. “A lot of young moms, we want to come to school but we have our babies.”

McDonald, who works daily with the teen parents on parenting skills, said she sees the class as removing an obstacle to their learning.

“I see a great way for our (OPAT) program to partner with the Head Start,” she said. “I see it merging so well. We’re going to be able to have better access to our teen moms. They’re going to be right here.”

Some teen moms said the class would also help them be able to concentrate more on school if they know their babies are in good hands. Maria Ortega, 15, said she’ll be able to focus better once the Head Start opens because her 10-month-old son Miguel will down the hall.

“It’s going to be easier,” she said. “He’ll be closer to me.”

Principal Chief Chad Smith said the CN created the program to be a good partner in the community, to keep teenage parents in school to finish their educations and get the fathers of the children involved in the children’s lives.

“Through establishing this partnership with the school, we can help provide a way for the students to continue their education, which in turn will help the community,” he said.

Tribal and school officials agreed that students have a better chance of attending college or another form of post-secondary education upon graduation from high school.

Doing so will help the students better provide for their family later, Jordan said.

“There is so much research showing what an effective program it is anyway and how well those babies do in school,” she said. “If we want to talk about really overcoming poverty, Head Start is a great way.”


01/23/2015 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. –An Indian Health Service scholarship workshop has been set for Feb. 10 at Northeastern State University’s Tahlequah campus The workshop will take place on the University Center’s third floor in the Morgan Room. IHS Area Scholarship Coordinator Keith Bohanan will act as the guest facilitator. IHS offers three scholarships to qualified Native American or Alaska Native candidates, those being the preparatory, pre-graduate and health professions scholarships. The preparatory scholarship is for qualified Native American and Alaska Native students who are enrolled in preparatory or undergraduate prerequisite courses in preparation for entry health professions school. The pre-graduate scholarship is for qualified Native American and Alaska Native students who are enrolled in coursework leading to a bachelor’s degree required for application to pre-medicine, pre-dentistry, pre-podiatry and others needed by Indian health programs. The health professions scholarship is for qualified Native American and Alaska Native students who are enrolled in an eligible health profession degree program. For applications, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a> The deadline for new applications is March 28.
01/21/2015 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Foundation is accepting scholarship applications for the 2015-16 academic year until Jan. 31. “The foundation is doing more than ever to help our Cherokee youth succeed academically,” Janice Randall, CNF executive director, said. “These scholarships can often be the deciding factor on whether a student attends college, and we are dedicated to making sure every student has the resources they need to succeed.” The foundation offers three differently funded scholarships: private, tribal and institutionally based. There are currently two institutions with Cherokee endowments – the University of Tulsa and Oklahoma State University. All applications are evaluated based on academic performance, financial need and community and cultural involvement. “The application process can be overwhelming to students, but our online system has been a wonderful resource for students to efficiently search and apply for scholarship opportunities,” Randall said. “We also encourage students to stop by the foundation office if they need assistance creating their profile.” Once students create an online profile, they have instant access to a one-stop shop for all CNF scholarships. The system also provides students with notices reminding them about upcoming scholarship opportunities and deadlines. Applications can be found at In 2014, more than $125,000 in scholarships was awarded to 59 Cherokee students representing communities throughout the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction and at-large. For more information, call 918-207-0950 or email Janice Randall at <a href="mailto:"></a>.
01/19/2015 12:01 PM
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – The 38th annual California Conference on American Indian Education will take place March 15-17 in Palm Springs. The conference’s theme is “Indian Education-Meeting the Challenge” and it will provide an opportunity to share traditional and academic teaching and learning. The conference goals are to honor the elders, who are revered teachers; to provide opportunities for networking among American Indian families, elders, tribal leaders, students and educators; to advocate academic excellence and educational opportunities for American Indian families, educators, tribal leaders and board members; and to recognize distinguished educators, parents and students. To download conference registration forms, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. To register, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. For more information, call Irma Amaro at 530-895-4212, ext. 109 or email <a href="mailto:"></a> or call Rachel McBride at 530-895-4212, ext. 110 email <a href="mailto:"></a>.
01/11/2015 12:00 PM
WASHINGTON – The Center for Native American Youth is accepting applications for the 2015 class of Champions for Change from young Native Americans ages 14 to 22 who demonstrate leadership and service in tribal and urban Indian Communities, schools and programs. The CNAY is dedicated to improving the health, safety and overall well-being of Native American youth through communication, policy development and advocacy. The deadline to apply to the Champions for Change program is Jan. 12. For an application to be reviewed, one must submit a signed and completed application form, an essay or video describing one’s work to promote positive change and completed recommendation forms. Applicants must complete and submit the online forms necessary to apply. For the Champions for Change online application, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. For the first adult recommendation form, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. For the second adult recommendation form, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. For the peer recommendation form, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. One can also email, fax or mail applications to Josie Raphaelito, One Dupont Circle NW, Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20036. Or email <a href="mailto:"></a> or fax 202-293-0525. For more information, call Raphaelito at 202-736-2905.
01/10/2015 04:00 PM
WASHINGTON – Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn announced Dec. 19 that the Bureau of Indian Education has received an additional $40 million as part of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015. “It’s heartening that Congress and the Obama Administration are working together to ensure American Indian students attending BIE-funded schools receive a world-class education delivered by tribal nations,” Washburn said. “The Consolidated Appropriations Act takes a step in the right direction by addressing critical educational needs identified in the BIE Blueprint for Reform developed by the White House Council on Native American Affairs.” The Consolidated Appropriations Act includes an additional $19.2 million for school replacement over fiscal year 2014 funding levels. The school replacement funding completes the requirements for the school construction project started in fiscal year 2014 and covers design costs for the final two schools on the 2004 priority list. The agreement also includes an increase of $14.1 million for Tribal Grant Support Costs for tribally controlled schools, $2 million for the development and operation of tribal departments of education and an increase of $1.7 million for Science Post Graduate Scholarships. “This additional funding will help us to implement reforms, ensure tribal communities receive sufficient funding to operate their schools, and enable us to begin the longer process of replacing many of our dilapidated schools,” BIE Director Charles “Monty” Roessel said. “We have much work to do, but we are more determined than ever to work with Congress and tribal communities to reach our shared goal of improving educational outcomes for American Indian children.” Under an initiative of the White House Council on Native American Affairs, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, who chairs the council, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, after consultation with tribal leaders, issued a Blueprint for Reform in June 2014 to redesign the BIE. Building on the Blueprint’s recommendations, Jewell issued a secretarial order to begin restructuring BIE from solely a provider of education to a capacity-builder and education service-provider to tribes. The goal of this transformation is to give tribes the ability themselves to provide an academically rigorous and culturally appropriate education to their students, according to their needs. The blueprint also made recommendations regarding the BIE’s budget, including that Interior invest in the school system’s infrastructure, including funding to support new school construction, and align its budget to support tribal self-determination by requesting and increasing tribal grant and Tribal Grant Support Costs for tribally controlled grant schools. The BIE oversees 183 elementary and secondary schools, including Sequoyah Schools in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, which are operated by the Cherokee Nation. BIE-funded schools are located on 64 reservations in 23 states, serving more than 48,000 students. Of these, 59 are BIE-operated and 124 are tribally operated under Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act contracts or Tribally Controlled Schools Act grants. BIE also funds or operates off-reservation boarding schools and peripheral dormitories near reservations for students attending public schools.
01/10/2015 12:00 PM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Northeastern State University in Muskogee is preparing for its first group of students to enter the Master of Science, Physician Assistant Studies Program that begins in January 2017. According to a NSU press release, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates job opportunities for PAs are increasing faster than average. They are expected to see a 38 percent growth from 2012-22. Dr. Pamela Hathorn, NSU’s College of Science & Health Professions dean, said Oklahoma graduates approximately 70 PAs a year, which leaves only one PA for every 12,000 individuals in some counties. According to the release, the need for a PA program was identified at a regional healthcare summit at NSU-Muskogee in 2010, where health care leaders, providers and educators across the state came together to address the health care needs of the region. “Occupational therapy was at the top of the list and that is why NSU started with that program,” she said. “Also among the top contenders was the need for mid-level providers (PAs) in the region, so that was the next program on our list.” PAs compile patient data, preform comprehensive examinations, are involved in assessing and providing care and work with patients under the supervision of a physician. A master’s degree is required for entry level into this profession. “The basic didactic and clinical program for PAs is the same regardless of which area of medicine they work in,” said Hathorn. “A PA can work in pediatrics and then decide to change to orthopedics without having to go back to PA school to do so. This is one of the aspects that makes the physician assistant profession so appealing.” The PA program is a two-year program that includes one year of formal training and one year of clinical training. After completing the two years students will be required to pass a licensing exam by the state medical board. Hathorn said any major can apply for the PA program, but certain courses are required for admittance into the program. “The major doesn’t prepare them for their health professions program,” she said. “The prerequisite courses they had to take to apply to the program is what prepares them for the program and/or the admissions exam, in some cases.” The first PA class at NSU will only accept 16 students. “It’s harder to get into PA than medical school, part of that is because there are fewer seats in the state for PA versus medical school,” said Hathorn. “However, it is not unusual for competitive students to apply three times before being accepted into PA school.” For more information, visit or email <a href="mailto:"></a>.